Offensive Depth Chart For Impatient Fans

Only about 48 hours to wait until I get an official Alabama football depth chart, when I can emerge from the shadows where I have been scheming away for months. I am an incurable depth chartist. Even on days when I'm not filling in the blanks at right tackle and left cornerback, I'm thinking about it.




Coach Nick Saban
Alabama Coach Nick Saban tries to make me feel bad about it. Well, not me specifically. All media. For all I know he doesn't know that I am a depth chart addict. I only mentioned it to him once (before his first spring practice), and when he blew up at me I apologized for irritating him. I also told him it was just curious to me that he could conduct practice without having a depth chart.

He replied, (1) I didn't make him mad and (2) okay, he does have a depth chart, but it's for administrative use only.

He has since expanded his administrative explanation to Alabama having "personnel groups" until the week of the game. That's when he'll have a depth chart and he'll share that with the world (through the media) on Monday.

Like I'm going to wait.

It isn't easy trying to figure what Alabama's depth chart is going to look like because practices are closed. Those media members attempting to figure a depth chart based on the way players line up in individual work are on a fool's mission. And Saban lets them know about it. I make a lot of mistakes, but that isn't one of them.

Another thing that makes figuring a depth chart difficult is that players insist no one has a job sewed up. Andre Smith, who has been a starter at left tackle the past two years and is a pre-season All-America, told me that.


Terry Grant

Trying to figure a depth chart involves reading between the lines. What does Saban say about a position? When he was asked recently about Terry Grant, he said that Grant was doing well, but then began to praise Glen Coffee. I mentally moved Coffee ahead of Grant on my depth chart.

Saban was asked about tight ends and said, "We use two," and had praise for both Nick Walker and Travis McCall. No problem there. Walker is number one at tight end and McCall is number one at H-Back.


Uh oh. How many positions are we figuring for a depth chart? That question resulted in an offense that has about 20 positions shoe-horned into 11 allowable spots.

I had been thinking that Alabama's base offense this year might include one tight end, one tailback and three wide receivers. But if there is a tight end and an H-Back, there is room for only two wide receivers.

Saban also has a couple of guys at fullback, or so it seems. But is there going to be a fullback in the offense? I'm thinking, "Nope," based on last year.

There has been an interesting move with Alfred McCullough going from defensive end to offensive guard. Which guard? Center Antoine Caldwell said, "I'm not sure. Probably both of them."


Marlon Davis
Not sure? Caldwell is a pretty smart guy who presumably knows his right from his left. Perhaps the players have been instructed to withhold some information from the media.

Do you think? When right guard Marlon Davis was asked last week how the young offensive linemen were looking, he said, "I don't know anything about a depth chart. You've got to ask Coach Saban about that." The reporter explained he wasn't asking for a depth chart, just curious as to how frosh offensive linemen Tyler Love, Barrett Jones and John Michael Boswell were doing. "Everyone's working hard," Davis said.

Just for the heck of it, I'm thinking about an offensive depth chart with 12 positions, H-Back instead of fullback and three wide receivers—split end, flanker and slotback. And I know that wide receivers can be somewhat interchangeable.

The first offensive line seems to have been set. Thinking that Andre Smith, a junior, may not return for his senior year, I suspect a freshman may be his back-up and that the freshman may get a little work this year in preparation for the future. So my offensive line two-deep is left tackle Andre Smith and Tyler Love, left guard Mike Johnson and Brian Motley, center Antoine Caldwell and Evan Cardwell, right guard Marlon Davis and David Ross, and right tackle Drew Davis and Taylor Pharr.


Nick Walker
(Incidentally, it won't surprise me if the "official depth chart" doesn't have Love as Smith's back-up.)

Tight end will be Nick Walker and Chris Underwood, H-Back Travis McCall and Preston Dial, if there are those positions. If there is only one tight end, the edge would go to Walker over McCall based on last season. If fullback is a position, which seems unlikely, it likely would be Baron Huber and Jeramie Griffin.

There was a time when I thought freshman Star Jackson might be the back-up quarterback to John Parker Wilson, but several interview opportunities with Greg McElroy and other players have convinced me that McElroy is number two.

I go back and forth on tailback. Today I think Terry Grant is number one and Glen Coffee number two and that everyone wants to see where freshman Mark Ingram ends up. He might be in the top two, but I think experience counts, at least for the opener against Clemson next Saturday.


Mike McCoy
The three wide receiver spots are likely to have more skill than last year, the graduations of D.J. Hall, Matt Caddell and Keith Brown nothwithstanding.

Mike McCoy is going to start. Saban can't say enough good about him. Based on the rogue video and on the talk of Saban and players, Julio Jones is probably one of the three best, certainly in the two-deep. We haven't heard much about Nikita Stover, while Earl Alexander has been getting better reviews. Saban ruled Brandon Gibson out of the top six for the opening game, and Darius Hanks is working with the scout team.

Tough to figure, but let's say Mike McCoy and Earl Alexander at flanker, Julio Jones and Nikita Stover at split end, and Marquis Maze and B.J. Scott at slotback.

Corrections to come Monday.

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